You turn on the radio and don’t hear what you want to hear. What do you do? Sure, okay – but what happens when you hit the internet and go to clubs and still don’t hear what you want to hear?
Jeremy Widerman, Jon Harvey, Brandon Bliss and Steve Kiely – known collectively as Monster Truck – chose to make the music themselves. “We were filling a hole for ourselves,” says Widerman. “It wasn’t about trying to fill a niche.”
Yet fill a niche they have – both on their record label (the successful indie Dine Alone), and for music fans across the country. From their first enthusiastic rehearsal to this very day, the Truck has been on a steadily upward trajectory. The band spends most of the summer touring the globe and performing at major festivals across the country.
Monster Truck has a streamlined, instinct-based songwriting process that excludes endless tinkering. “If we aren’t able to bring a song from seed to completion in a day, we usually abandon it,” says Widerman, citing punk as an influence on the group’s process, even if it isn’t audible in its music. “We find the songs that come together on their own, without a lot of effort, are the best. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. Make it catchy, get a hook, and just beat the shit out of that hook.”
“If we aren’t able to bring a song from seed to completion in a day, we usually abandon it.” – Jeremy Widerman
Those hooks are what elevate the Truck above other riff-rockers. A cool, face-pummeling riff is essential, but if that’s all you have, the effects will wear off as soon as the bruises heal. Monster Truck songs have staying power because of what the rest of the band bring to the table once the guitar chords are in place.
“When Harv [Jon Harvey] starts singing on top of a new song, it’s literally like someone turns on a light,” says Widerman. “That’s when I know the song’s going to work.”
The combination of Bliss’ organ and Harvey’s voice creates something akin to a southern-fried Soundgarden; it’s familiar, but defies direct comparison to any one artist. They sound like something you used to love, yet at the same time, there’s no nostalgia in their music. Meat and potatoes rock ‘n’roll may have been overdone over the decades, but that’s precisely the problem – it’s often overdone, overcooked, dry and tasteless. The Truck, on the other hand, serve up something tastier, and people have responded by taking second helpings.
“I never expected it would be embraced to the full by music fans around the country,” says Widerman. “Our fans are die-hard crazy, and it’s so fun to play for them. It makes our job the best.”
- Monster Truck formed in 2009 as a side-project to their other “more serious” bands (The Reason, Saint Alvia)
- “Sweet Mountain River” was used as a soundtrack to Blue Jays in-game highlights on TSN
- They won the CASBY Award for Favourite New Artist in 2012
Discography: Monster Truck (EP , 2010), The Brown EP (2011), Furiosity (2013) SOCAN members since 2010 (Harvey, Kiely), 2007 (Bliss, Widerman)